Even as the border stand-off between India and China played out back home, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his way to the Grand Elysee hotel, where Chinese President Xi Jinping was staying, and had a conversation on a “range of issues” during the BRICS leaders’ informal meeting.
Officials said the Prime Minister went from his hotel, Atlantic Kempinski, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau are also staying, and crossed the Alster Lake for a seven-minute ride to the Grand Elysee hotel to attend the BRICS meeting, which was hosted by Xi. “He went there for the BRICS meeting since it was being hosted by the Chinese President,” a source said.
The Indian embassy in Beijing had sent R Madhusudan — first secretary (political) in the Indian embassy and someone who has been the Chinese to English and vice-versa interpreter for Modi for the last three years — in anticipation of a possible interaction.
As reported by The Indian Express on Friday, sources said that the two sides had been in touch with each other diplomatically on possible “encounters”, if not “structured bilateral meetings”, and Madhusudan’s presence was an anticipatory move in that direction. Madhusudan was also present during the Modi-Xi meeting in Astana last month, as well as for Xi’s visit to India in September 2014.
While there was no official word on whether the border stand-off figured during the interactions or not, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Gopal Baglay only tweeted a picture of the two leaders shaking hands, with a smile, and surrounded by Indian and Chinese officials.
“At d (sic) BRICS leaders’ informal gathering @ Hamburg hosted by China, PM @narendramodi and President Xi had a conversation on a range of issues,” Baglay tweeted, minutes after their handshake-smile encounter.
The tone was kept positive on the first day of the G20 meeting by Modi, as he “appreciated” momentum in the BRICS bloc under the Chinese chairmanship and extended full cooperation for the grouping’s upcoming summit to be hosted by Beijing. The BRICS leaders’ summit is expected to take place in Xiamen from September 3 to September 5.
Modi started his speech by thanking Xi for his welcome and for hosting the meeting. “Under Xi’s chairmanship, the progress and positive momentum of BRICS has further deepened our cooperation,” Modi said.
Modi, who spoke in Hindi, also said, “Lastly, I extend my best wishes and full cooperation to President Xi Jinping for the upcoming ninth BRICS Summit.”
Xi, speaking right after Modi, also appreciated the momentum witnessed at the BRICS bloc during India’s chairmanship before it was passed on to China.
With the pleasantries done, Modi used two occasions available to him to stress on terrorism, once at the BRICS meeting, and again at the leaders’ session on “fighting terrorism”. The Indian PM, chosen by consensus, was the lead speaker at the session, organised by Merkel.
Modi said BRICS has been a strong voice and needs to show leadership on terrorism and global economy. “G20 should collectively oppose terrorism financing, franchises, safe havens, support and sponsors,” Modi said.
Taking aim at Pakistan — China’s all-weather friend — Modi used the opportunity as lead speaker at the “fighting terrorism” session to propose effective implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the issue of terrorism, as part of his 11-point plan to combat terrorism. This was in reference to China blocking India’s move to get a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar.
Naming Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Haqqani network as terrorist groups affecting South Asia, Modi said that “some countries use terrorists for achieving their political objectives” — an oblique reference to Pakistan.
In a radical suggestion, he said that officials of countries that support terrorism should be banned from entering G-20 countries. This sort of a deterrent action is necessary against such countries, he said.
Modi also suggested that the national lists of suspected terrorists be exchanged between G-20 countries and joint action be taken against such terrorists and their supporters.
He also proposed that for effective cooperation, legal processes like extradition be simplified and expedited.
Modi also called for deradicalisation programmes and exchange of beat practices within G-20 nations. Pitching for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, he asked for setting up of a mechanism between National Security Advisors of G-20 countries.